Oct 112022
 
 October 11, 2022  Posted by at 8:15 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  50 Responses »


Paul Gauguin By the stream, autumn 1885

 

You Can Always Dream (Jim Kunstler)
Ukraine’s ‘Nazi Regime’ Must Be Dismantled – Medvedev (RT)
A Nice Bridge You Got There… (Dmitry Orlov)
West Has Now Set A Course On Total Terrorist Warfare (Saker)
Terror On Crimea Bridge Forces Russia To Unleash Shock’n Awe (Escobar)
All Quiet on the Eastern Front? Not At All, Atlantis (Batiushka)
Russian MOD Comments On Results Of Strikes In Ukraine (RT)
Ukraine Halts Electricity Exports To EU (RT)
Dancing In The Streets…. (Denninger)
Hard Winter Ahead For Europe – Erdogan (RT)
Putin Meeting With Permanent Members Of The Russian Security Council (Saker)
Before Ukraine Blew Up Kerch Bridge, British Spies Plotted It (GZ)
Global Pandemic Response was a House of Cards (McCullough)
Trump Shreds Four Former Presidents, Hillary Clinton (CB)
Julian Assange and Our Impunity Democracy (Bovard)

 

 

George Webb’s predictions are quite specific. A Kissinger initiated peace conferece will start – in about 10 days. After all the lights go out in Ukraine, and after Russia detonates a small neutron bomb -tennis ball size- along with some plutonium, deep underneath a steel plant like Azovstal. The west will pay well over $300 billion for its reconstruction.

 

 

 

 

Ladapo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lassalle
https://twitter.com/i/status/1579567313082544129

 

 

 

 

“Message: if you think we’re fucking around, consider this an attitude adjustment opportunity.”

You Can Always Dream (Jim Kunstler)

Forgive me for repeating what I’ve written more than once before: Russia will not benefit from having a broken, failed state on its doorstep. Such a situation would clearly just invite more international hugger-mugger. Rather, Russia will benefit hugely from having a neutral, functioning Ukraine next door, a state with ample agricultural resources that could plausibly feed its people and live in peace, perhaps even enjoy special trade privileges with its bigger neighbor to the east… a Ukraine that would be a geographical buffer between Russia and what is apt to be a very disorderly and distressed Western Europe on the other side. The Ukrainian leader, Mr. Zelenskyy, capped off the weeks of sabotage by appealing to the US and NATO to conduct “preemptive nuclear strikes” against Russia proper.

That’ll work in Ukraine’s favor, I’m sure. He promised to call German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and make the pitch for NATO jumping into the action on the ground. (And with whose army would that be?) Such cheek from this desperado! Going mad-dog is probably not a sign of confidence. As of Monday, October 10, Russia began delivering some disciplinary actions against Mr. Zelenskyy’s insolent regime. Russia sent missiles into at least 10 Ukrainian cities, targeting electric power generation, water, central heating, and other “key services” in Kiev and elsewhere. Message: if you think we’re fucking around, consider this an attitude adjustment opportunity.

The action is an overture to a strategic shift. Russia aims to speed up the game clock, consolidate its ownership of the Donbas provinces, destroy Ukraine’s remaining military capability, bust up enough stuff to perhaps prompt the Ukrainian people to ask whether continuing to follow Mr. Zelenskyy’s gang is a good idea, and leave no alternative to talks that will leave Ukraine neutralized. Mr. Putin is calling “Joe Biden’s” bluff. All of this could have been avoided, of course, if the maniacs of America’s deep state had simply abided by the promise made thirty years ago to not expand NATO. What part of that deal didn’t we understand? Apparently, all of it. On purpose. Because we have acted with conscious and arrogant dishonor.

Of course, our “president” could commence that nuclear war he affects to be so avid for. It would be a fitting career-capper for the Ol’ Dawg. The show-runner behind all this needless mayhem, former President Barack Obama, reminded us a while back: “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to fuck things up.” Roger that, BHO! Which gets back to that dream I had of the headline: BIDEN ARRESTED. It was good, but not enough. How about : BIDEN, OBAMA, AND 639 FEDERAL OFFICIALS IN NINE AGENCIES ARRESTED. What a strange moment in our long and steadfast history as an orderly Republic that would be. And yet, what a perfect ending to these years of perfidy and travail.

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No nukes, no NATO, no nazis.

Ukraine’s ‘Nazi Regime’ Must Be Dismantled – Medvedev (RT)

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday called for a “complete dismantling” of Ukraine’s “political regime.” Writing on Telegram, Medvedev, who now serves as deputy head of the Security Council, shared his “personal opinion,” claiming that the current “Nazi political regime” in Kiev will represent “a constant, direct and clear threat to Russia.” “Therefore, in addition to protecting our people and protecting the borders of the country, our future actions, in my opinion, should be aimed at a complete dismantling of the political regime of Ukraine,” Medvedev said. Commenting on the numerous missile strikes carried out across Ukraine on Monday morning, the former Russian leader said that that was a “first episode” and that “there will be others.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier on Monday confirmed that the major operation against Ukrainian infrastructure was in response to the October 8 attack on the Crimean Bridge. Moscow considers it an act of terrorism organized by the Ukrainian security services. Claiming that “the Kiev regime has been using terrorist methods for a very long time,” Putin warned Ukraine against further attacks on Russian soil. Otherwise, Kiev will face a response “on a scale corresponding to the threats created against Russia,” the president said. Meanwhile, Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for the attack on the Crimean Bridge, despite the country’s top officials openly celebrating the deadly explosion.

The EU condemned Monday’s shelling of Ukrainian cities by Moscow, with the bloc’s top diplomat Josep Borrell pledging to provide more military assistance to Kiev in response. The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that its forces had carried out multiple strikes “on objects of military command and control systems, communications and energy of Ukraine.” Kiev, Lviv, Kharkov, Odessa and other cities were targeted, according to the local authorities, while regions across Ukraine are facing blackouts and rotating power cuts.

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“..there was no land connecting Crimea to the rest of Russia; but now that Kherson and Donetsk are again part of Russia, traffic from Simferopol to Rostov can be sent around the northern shore of Sea of Azov..”

A Nice Bridge You Got There… (Dmitry Orlov)

A truck bomb exploded on the bridge that links Crimea with Krasnodar, shutting it down for almost a whole day. Oh, and before we forget, Krasny Liman, a railroad junction in Donetsk was temporarily surrendered to the relentlessly attacking Ukrainians (mostly Polish mercenaries, actually) who drenched it in their blood and festooned it with their billowing entrails in the process. These and other less significant events have caused some small but noisy part of Russian social media to explode in consternation, baying for revenge and generally acting dissatisfied with the progress made since the Special Operation was declared on February 22, 2022. Sure enough, plenty of these hysterical voices are actually paid Ukrainian agents tasked with spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt and, sure enough, the Special Operation will proceed regardless, so this is all just a temporary annoyance.

But I will comment on it because I feel that I have to, and then move on to more important things. The bridge across the Kerch Strait was under discussion for many decades. It was in the planning stages even while Crimea was still an autonomy within the constitutionally intact Ukraine, prior to the US-instigated violent coup of 2014. After Crimea rejoined Russia, it became extremely important to create a ground transportation link between it and the mainland, and the bridge was built in record time. It was a massive undertaking and is a high-prestige item for the Russian government. But there have also been some organizational issues. As it stands, yesterday a large tractor-trailer packed with explosives was detonated on the highway portion of the bridge just as a cargo train with cisterns of diesel was passing through.

The resulting explosion demolished two reinforced concrete highway spans and sooted up the rail bed. All train traffic and half of the road traffic were restarted that very day. There is equipment to X-ray all cargo passing through, but it wasn’t being used because of certain bureaucratic inadequacies; these, I am sure, will now be remedied. The reason the bridge was extremely important was because there was no land connecting Crimea to the rest of Russia; but now that Kherson and Donetsk are again part of Russia, traffic from Simferopol to Rostov can be sent around the northern shore of Sea of Azov (which is now an entirely Russian body of water); the difference is between 690km and 730km. The bridge is by means superfluous because the distance to Krasnodar, another regional hub, is 1030km by land and just 460km via the bridge. But the new land route from Moscow to Simferopol is 350km shorter.

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“.. the West’s “redirection” towards terrorism is an admission of military, economic and political defeat.”

West Has Now Set A Course On Total Terrorist Warfare (Saker)

From what I have read, a truck filled with explosives blew up, killing three people in a car nearby, and then the flames took over a train also crossing the bridge. That train was full of fuel. It is only thanks to the amazing speed at which the bridge crews reacted that the damage was limited to only 9 wagons and, therefore, to a much shorter segment of the rail tracks. Looking at the video, one would imagine that the bridge is in ruins. In fact, traffic was reestablished on both rail tracks and the road in less than 24 hours (with the exception of heavy trucks). In other words, this is yet another case of “it is humiliating, but not dangerous” But that is an increasingly mistaken notion: this time is also VERY dangerous.

It is self-evident that the Kiev regime would never have had the means, technical and political, to execute such an attack without being told to do so by its masters in the West. Such an attack, right on the heels of the attacks on of NS1/NS2 shows beyond any doubt that West has now set a course on total terrorist warfare. This makes sense, since for all the so-called “victories” of the NATO forces in the Ukraine, the reality is that they reconquered a few villages and towns while Russia liberated and then incorporated entire regions. And Russia did that while always being at a numerical disadvantage. And while inflicting 10:1 KIA ratios. In other words the West’s “redirection” towards terrorism is an admission of military, economic and political defeat.

While this is hardly a surprise, the West *always* uses terrorism against sovereign governments, this is still a very negative development for Russia. Simply put, there are always more targets than cops/guards. Furthermore, terrorists can always chose the time and location of their attacks. So far, the Ukronazi efforts in Russia yielded very little tangible benefits: the murder of Dugina made her into a martyr, the attack on NS1/NS2 really only hurt Germany and the EU, while the explosion on Crimean Bridge has proven that this is a very hard target which will be extremely hard to destroy short of using a tactical nuke.

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“The lightning strike de facto metastasizing of SMO into CTO means that the regime in Kiev and those supporting it are now considered as legitimate targets..”

Terror On Crimea Bridge Forces Russia To Unleash Shock’n Awe (Escobar)

So we had, in sequence, Ukrainian terrorists blowing up Darya Dugina’s car in a Moscow suburb (they admitted it); US/UK special forces (partially) blowing Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 (they admitted and then retracted); and the terror attack on Krymsky Most (once again: admitted then retracted). Not to mention the shelling of Russian villages in Belgorod, NATO supplying long-range weapons to Kiev, and the routine execution of Russian soldiers. Darya Dugina, Nord Streams and Crimea Bridge make it an Act of War trifecta. So this time the response was inevitable – not even waiting for the first meeting since February of the Russian Security Council scheduled for the afternoon of 10 October.

Moscow launched the first wave of a Russian Shock’n Awe without even changing the status of the Special Military Operation (SMO) to Counter-Terrorist Operation (CTO), with all its serious military/legal implications. After all, even before the UN Security Council meeting, Russian public opinion was massively behind taking the gloves off. Putin had not even scheduled bilateral meetings with any of the members. Diplomatic sources hint that the decision to let the hammer come down had already been taken over the weekend. Shock’n Awe did not wait for the announcement of an ultimatum to Ukraine (that may come in a few days); an official declaration of war (not necessary); or even announcing which ‘”decision-making centers” in Ukraine would be hit.

The lightning strike de facto metastasizing of SMO into CTO means that the regime in Kiev and those supporting it are now considered as legitimate targets, just like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra during the Anti-Terror Operation (ATO) in Syria. And the change of status – now this is a real war on terror – means that terminating all strands of terrorism, physical, cultural, ideological, are the absolute priority, and not the safety of Ukrainian civilians. During the SMO, safety of civilians was paramount. Even the UN has been forced to admit that in over seven months of SMO the number of civilian casualties in Ukraine has been relatively low.

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‘The entry of the four provinces into Russia is not the last’.

All Quiet on the Eastern Front? Not At All, Atlantis (Batiushka)

We are still having our minds blown by President Putin’s Speech over a week ago. How many times we have listened to it and watched it. If I may say something personal, I can say that I have not even dared dream for over 40 years that a Russian leader would make such a speech. I thought I would die long before it would happen, even if it did happen. I was waiting for the end of the world and now hope has been given us. The President said it all, summing up an evil millennium of Western history, starting with its worldwide plunder and ending in its shameful Woke ideologies, the denial and destruction of Spiritual Reality, National Sovereignty and Family Life. Yes, this is Satanism against any sort of Spiritual Tradition. And only Russia has dared to oppose this Satanism. Needless to say, we stand behind the Russian Federation 100%. As the President, our President, said: ‘Nothing will be as before’.

The results from the referenda on returning to Russia in four Russian-speaking Ukrainian provinces came in nearly two weeks ago: Donetsk: 99% Lugansk: 98% Zaporozhie: 93% Kherson: 87%. Thus, on 30 September these four provinces, the size of four Belgiums, duly joined the Russian Federation, following the example of the Crimea over eight years ago. The results were interesting, as they showed how popularity for the move ‘declines’ as you move westwards, with Kherson at ‘only’ 87%. However, nobody should be surprised that Russian-speaking areas overwhelmingly, even if ‘only’ 87%, wanted to return to Russia, which is where they belonged until 1922. The voting, ethnicity, linguistic and religious patterns are clear from, for example, the maps and analysis of the Eurasian Research Institute.

Nobody should be surprised, unless of course they have no common sense, or else their common sense has been blinded by their ‘West is Best’ ideology, which is in fact the essence of Nazism. Nearly 10,000,000 people, nearly one quarter of the population of the Crimea-less Ukraine (pre-War population) (more people than those in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Georgia combined), some 20% of the landmass of the Crimea-less Ukraine, an area nearly the size of England, joined the Russian Federation. Out of 25 provinces in the Ukraine before the violent, US-organised overthrow of the democratically-elected Ukrainian government (cost to the US taxpayer: $5 billion) in February 2014, 20 are now left. Who leaves next? As the head of the Republic of the Crimea, Sergei Aksjonov, said on 1 October: ‘The entry of the four provinces into Russia is not the last’.

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“The goal of the strike has been achieved. All designated objects have been hit..”

Russian MOD Comments On Results Of Strikes In Ukraine (RT)

A rocket barrage that targeted Ukrainian military objects and infrastructure has accomplished its goal, the Russian Defense Ministry claimed on Monday. The attack came after Moscow accused Kiev of orchestrating a deadly explosion on the strategic Crimean Bridge. Speaking at a regular briefing, Lieutenant General Igor Konashenkov noted that Russia had used high-precision and long-range weapons to hit objects on Ukrainian territory, including “military command facilities, communications and energy systems.”“The goal of the strike has been achieved. All designated objects have been hit,” he noted.

His comments came hours after Russia struck multiple targets in Kiev, with the city’s Mayor Vitaly Klitschko claiming that “critical infrastructure” had been affected. The attack also apparently hit Vladimirskaya Street, where the main office of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is based, according to Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the interior minister. Apart from Kiev, several other Ukrainian cities were targeted, including Dnepr in east of the country, and Lviv in the west. Following the strikes, Ukrainian authorities reported blackouts in Lviv, Poltava, Sumy, Kharkov and Ternopol Regions, adding that in other parts of the country power supply had been partially disrupted.

On Monday, President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine that if it orchestrates any new terrorist attacks on Russia, it “will respond firmly and on a scale corresponding to the threats created against” it. The attacks follow a powerful explosion that rocked the Crimean Bridge on Saturday, killing three and causing the partial collapse of the road section, as well as a blaze on the parallel railway span. While Ukrainian officials did not directly assume responsibility for the explosion, on Sunday Putin claimed that it was the Ukrainian intelligence service that had orchestrated the blast.

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“The cynicism is that the entire supply chain has been hit..” “It’s both electricity distribution systems and generation.”

Ukraine Halts Electricity Exports To EU (RT)

Damage to energy infrastructure caused by Moscow’s air strikes has forced Ukraine’s government to cut off electricity exports to the European Union, taking away a supply source that Kiev claims helped its partners reduce their reliance on power generated with Russian natural gas. “Today’s missile strikes, which hit the thermal generation and electrical substations, forced Ukraine to suspend electricity exports from October 11, 2022, to stabilize its own energy system,” the Ukrainian energy ministry said on Monday in a statement. The ministry noted that even after losing control of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant to Russian forces in March, Kiev had been able to meet its export commitments to European partners, but Monday’s attacks were the largest of the entire conflict.

“The cynicism is that the entire supply chain has been hit,” Energy Minister German Galushchenko said. “It’s both electricity distribution systems and generation. The enemy’s goal is to make it difficult to reconnect electricity supplies from other sources.” Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday’s air strikes on Kiev and other major Ukrainian cities – targeting military, energy and communications infrastructure – came in response to Ukraine’s attack on the strategic Crimean Bridge on Saturday. “If there are further attempts to conduct terrorist attacks on our soil, Russia will respond firmly and on a scale corresponding to the threats created against Russia,” Putin announced. Galushchenko, however, accused Moscow of waging “energy terror” in retaliation for Kiev helping other countries reduce their dependence on Russia.

After joining European energy system ENTSO-E back in June, Kiev said it expected to earn some €1.5 billion from electricity exports to the EU by the end of the year. “That is why Russia is destroying our energy system, killing the very possibility of exporting electricity from Ukraine,”the energy minister claimed. Ukrenergo, the national power grid operator, claimed its specialists have been “engaging backup supply schemes” and repaired some of the damage by Monday night. In the meantime the ministry urged “all citizens of Ukraine to unite” and minimize their energy use during the peak demand hours, arguing that not only Ukraine is implementing measures to reduce power consumption, but the “whole of Europe is doing this now.”

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“..if you, ladies and gentlemen, support beyond that point the Government of Ukraine, either in word or deed you support the backing and outright commission of terrorism.”

Dancing In The Streets…. (Denninger)

Who remembers those that danced in the streets and cheered when 9/11 happened? You’re old enough to remember that, right? It wasn’t that long ago. I remember it quite well and the level of revulsion I had for those who participated was visceral and permanent; it remains even today. The detonation on the land bridge to Crimea at first looked like perhaps part of an act of War; special forces or something like that who managed to infiltrate into the area and blow it up. That happens during wars. Except… a closer look discloses that this was clearly not such a thing at all. Indeed it appears to be a simple truck bomb and it was primarily aimed at civilians and civilian infrastructure. In other words exactly as was Oklahoma City or the first attempt at the World Trade Center in the case of a truck bomb, and exactly as were two airliners aimed at the Twin Towers.


Those were all…… terrorism. Do recall that after 9/11 some of the cheerleading was done by government actors in certain other nations. Well, the government of Ukraine has officially endorsed the truck bombing that, near as we can tell, killed only civilians. According to the NY Times, it would appear, they not only endorsed it they orchestrated it. In other words Zelinskyy is reasonably compared against Bin Laden, the Blind Sheikh or Timothy McVeigh. So if you, ladies and gentlemen, support beyond that point the Government of Ukraine, either in word or deed you support the backing and outright commission of terrorism. I find your actions equally revolting — and I will forevermore — exactly as I found those who danced when the towers came down. And that’s a fact.

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“..the next one “will be even more difficult.”

Hard Winter Ahead For Europe – Erdogan (RT)

European countries are about to face significant difficulties this winter amid limited deliveries of Russian natural gas, Türkiye’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday. Speaking at the TUGVA youth forum, Türkiye’s leader noted that the whole continent “is on fire now.” “The entire Europe is wondering: ‘How will this winter go?’” he said. Meanwhile, according to Erdogan, his country will have no issues with energy resources in the coming months. “Thank God, we have made all our preparations… we have prepared everything for our nation, both natural gas and coal,” he stated. He also noted that the main issue for the nation is “how to deliver natural gas to our citizens at more affordable prices,” adding that Ankara is doing its best to achieve this goal. Erdogan went on to explain that Ankara is acting as a leading mediator between Ukraine and Russia, which have been locked in conflict since late February.


Several months ago, Ankara and the UN brokered a deal between Moscow and Kiev that unblocked Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea. Erdogan has also repeatedly urged the two parties to strike a peace deal. His comments come as Europe is reeling from an energy crisis fueled by skyrocketing gas prices due to sanctions the West has imposed on Russia over the conflict. While EU authorities have taken measures to cut energy consumption in a bid to alleviate the situation, various officials and public figures have warned of the desperate situation the continent may find itself. Earlier this month, Microsoft founder Bill Gates claimed that in a few months Europe may face a “very scary situation” as many could be unable to heat their homes. In late September, EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson also predicted that this winter “will not be easy,” adding that the next one “will be even more difficult.”

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“..the Kiev regime, by its actions, has actually put itself on the same level as international terrorist groups, and with the most odious of those. It is simply no longer possible to leave crimes of this kind without retaliation.”

Putin Meeting With Permanent Members Of The Russian Security Council (Saker)

The President held a briefing session with permanent members of the Security Council, via videoconference. “Colleagues, good afternoon, You know that yesterday Chairman of the Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin reported to me on the first results of the investigation into the act of sabotage on the Crimean Bridge. The forensic and other expert data, as well as operational information, show that the October 8 explosion was an act of terrorism aimed at destroying Russia’s civilian and critical infrastructure. It is also clear that the Ukrainian special services were the organisers and perpetrators of the attack. The Kiev regime has long been using terrorist methods, including murders of public figures, journalists and scientists, both in Ukraine and in Russia.

And terrorist attacks on towns in Donbass, which have been going on for more than eight years. And also acts of nuclear terrorism, by which I mean missile and artillery strikes on the Zaporozhye Nuclear Power Plant. This is not the whole story: Ukraine’s special services have also carried out three terrorist acts against Russia’s Kursk Nuclear Power Plant, repeatedly blowing up the plant’s high-voltage lines. The third such terrorist attack damaged three of those lines at once. The damage was repaired in the shortest possible time and there were no serious consequences. However, there have been a number of other terrorist attacks and attempts to commit similar crimes against electricity generation and gas transportation infrastructure facilities in our country, including an attempt to blow up a section of the TurkStream gas pipeline system.

All this has been proven by objective data, including the testimony of the detained perpetrators. It is well known that Russian representatives are not allowed to take part in the investigation into the causes of explosions at and the destruction of international gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea. But we all know who ultimately benefits from this crime. Thus, the Kiev regime, by its actions, has actually put itself on the same level as international terrorist groups, and with the most odious of those. It is simply no longer possible to leave crimes of this kind without retaliation.”

Putin

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“..Britain’s evident interest in planning such an attack underscores the deep involvement of NATO powers in the Ukraine proxy war..”

Before Ukraine Blew Up Kerch Bridge, British Spies Plotted It (GZ)

The secret British intelligence plot to blow up Crimea’s Kerch Bridge is revealed in internal documents and correspondence obtained exclusively by The Grayzone. The Grayzone has obtained an April 2022 presentation drawn up for senior British intelligence officers hashing out an elaborate scheme to blow up Crimea’s Kerch Bridge with the involvement of specially trained Ukrainian soldiers. Almost six months after the plan was circulated, Kerch Bridge was attacked in an October 8th suicide bombing apparently overseen by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence services. Detailed proposals for providing “audacious” support to Kiev’s “maritime raiding operations” were drafted at the request of Chris Donnelly, a senior British Army intelligence operative and veteran high ranking NATO advisor. The wide-ranging plan’s core component was “destruction of the bridge over the Kerch Strait.”

Documents and correspondence plotting the operation were provided to The Grayzone by an anonymous source. The truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge differed operationally from the plot sketched therein. Yet, Britain’s evident interest in planning such an attack underscores the deep involvement of NATO powers in the Ukraine proxy war. At almost precisely the time that London reportedly sabotaged peace talks between Kiev and Moscow in April this year, British military intelligence operatives were drawing up blueprints to destroy a major Russian bridge crossed by thousands of civilians per day. The roadmap was produced by Hugh Ward, a British military veteran. A number of strategies for helping Ukraine “pose a threat to Russian naval forces” in the Black Sea are outlined.

The overriding objectives are stated as aiming to “degrade” Russia’s ability to blockade Kiev, “erode” Moscow’s “warfighting capability”, and isolate Russian land and maritime forces in Crimea by “denying resupply by sea and overland via Kerch bridge.” In an email, Ward asked Donnelly to “please protect this document,” and it’s easy to see why. Of these assorted plans, only the “Kerch Bridge Raid CONOPS [concept of operation]” is subject to a dedicated annex at the conclusion of Ward’s report, underlining its significance. The content amounts to direct, detailed advocacy for the commission of what could constitute a grave war crime. Markedly, in plotting ways to destroy a major passenger bridge, there is no reference to avoiding civilian casualties.

Across three separate pages, alongside diagrams, the author spells out the terms of the “mission” – “[disabling] the Kerch Bridge in a way that is audacious, disrupts road and rail access to Crimea and maritime access to the Sea of Azov.” Ward suggests that destroying the bridge “would require a cruise missile battery to hit the two concrete pillars either side of the central steel arch, which will cause a complete structural failure,” and “prevent any road re-supply from the Russian mainland to Crimea and temporally [sic] disrupt the shipping lane.”

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4 pillars.

Global Pandemic Response was a House of Cards (McCullough)

The last and longest hearing occurred on January 24, 2022, the day after the Defeat the Mandates Rally in Washington where tens of thousands of Americans gathered to hear about the unjust mandates from doctors, nurses, scientists, religious leaders, employment groups, and entertainers and journalists. The January 24, 2022, hearing was co-moderated by Dr. McCullough and this time had dozens of doctors, nurses, patients, attorneys, and press in attendance. In a roundtable presentations were given, and questions were answered on the “Four Pillars of Pandemic Response.” These principles of how a nation should use its public health and clinical resources to respond to a novel infectious outbreak were presented and published by Dr. McCullough in the fall of 2020: 1) contagion control, 2) early ambulatory treatment, 3) late treatment in the hospital, 4) vaccination.

The reason why McCullough’s four pillars are so important is that a balanced approach would have provided the most immediate relief and care to those who are ill at the moment to reduce hospitalizations and deaths while developing a longer-run strategy. The four pillars should have been the framework for monthly updates from the White House Task Force and the CDC/NIH/FDA with input from teams of practicing doctors and experts on each of the pillars. So when doing an evaluation of how America and the world performed in the COVID-19 crisis, the four pillars of pandemic response is a vital framework upon which to craft the exercise.


This structure can also apply to any local community, hospital, health system or other jurisdiction. Every single organization who acted in a capacity of making decisions during the pandemic and took responsibility on policy decisions should take the time and effort to do a post-mortem evaluation using the four pillars—it is likely they will quickly see their imbalanced set of errors—largely ones of omission on the pillars of early and late treatment cost hundreds of thousands of lives and millions of avoidable hospitalizations. Without the four pillars, global pandemic response was a house of cards.

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“But almost as bad, crooked Hillary deleted 33,000 emails under congressional subpoena. She acid-washed them. … [It’s a] very expensive process. That’s why nobody does it.”

Trump Shreds Four Former Presidents, Hillary Clinton (CB)

Former President Donald Trump tore into three former presidents and President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice at his most recent rally. The former president was in Nevada on Saturday when he insisted that the raid on Mar-a-Lago and the way he has been treated would not have happened to any other president, and he claimed to have proof. “This is a new hoax: the document hoax. Just look at how every other president has been treated when they left office. Very interesting. They’ve been given all the time needed [to return documents] — because you’re supposed to have as much time as you need — and complete deference when it came to their documents and their papers. ‘Take as much as you need,’” he said.

“Barack Hussein Obama moved more than 20 truckloads, over 33 million pages of documents, both classified and unclassified, to a poorly built and unsafe former furniture store located in a bad neighborhood in Chicago. With no security, by the way,” he said. He then went on to former President George W. Bush. “George W. Bush stored 68 million pages in a warehouse in Texas and lost 22 million emails. Can you imagine if I lost two emails? They’d say, ‘This is terrible. It must have been nuclear in those two.’ … He lost 22 million. Can you believe that we’re talking about millions of pages and they’re coming after me? But they’re still looking for them. They’re still looking for those pages,” he said before going for former President Bill Clinton.

“Bill Clinton took millions of documents from the White House to a former car dealership in Arkansas … and kept classified recordings in his sock drawer. In fact, he supposedly put the information from the White House into his socks and left the White House with the information, so we call it the sock case,” the former president said. “If I did that, there’d be major trouble and NARA — you know NARA, the National Archives and Records Administration — ‘lost’ an entire hard drive full of information from the Clinton White House. They lost it. They can’t find it,” he said. He then hit his favorite target, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his opponent in the 2016 presidential election. “But almost as bad, crooked Hillary deleted 33,000 emails under congressional subpoena. She acid-washed them. … [It’s a] very expensive process. That’s why nobody does it. And then pounded her phones with hammers, making them totally unrecognizable to the naked eye. So she took those phones and she pounded the hell out of them,” the former president said.

He then went as far back as the late former President George H.W. Bush. “Meanwhile, George H.W bush took millions of documents to a former bowling alley and a former Chinese restaurant. … By contrast, I had a small number of boxes and storage at Mar-A-Lago — very small, relatively — guarded by the great Secret Service. And yet the FBI, with many people, raided my house. It’s in violation, by the way, of the Fourth Amendment, and many other things also,” he said. “The radical left thinks by doing all these sinister and venomous things, they’re making us weaker, but actually they are making us stronger and much more unified than ever before. I really believe that. I believe that,” the former president said.

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“Americans today are more likely to believe in witches, ghosts, and astrology than to trust the federal government.”

Julian Assange and Our Impunity Democracy (Bovard)

When the federal indictment against Assange was announced in 2019, a New York Times editorial declared that it was “aimed straight at the heart of the First Amendment” and would have a “chilling effect on American journalism as it has been practiced for generations.” Unfortunately, Americans and foreigners continue to suffer because of the perennial cover-ups of U.S. foreign interventions. After Britain arrested Assange on behalf of the U.S. government in 2019, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) whooped that Assange “is our property and we can get the facts and the truth from him.” But Manchin had no recommendations on how Americans can “get the facts and the truth” from the federal government. Biden has ramped up U.S. bombings in Somalia: who exactly are we killing? It is a secret. Which Syrian terrorist groups are the U.S. government still bankrolling? It’s a secret. Why is the U.S. continuing to assist Saudi atrocities against Yemeni civilians? It’s a secret.

And then there’s the biggest and most dangerous secret operation on the horizon right now – the U.S. intervention in the Russia-Ukraine war. Folks can condemn Russia and support Ukraine without believing that Washington policymakers deserve a blank check to potentially drag America into a nuclear war. Are CIA analysts or Pentagon officials issuing warnings about U.S. government actions in this conflict could lead to a spiral that ends in catastrophe? Unfortunately, Americans won’t learn of any such memos until damage has been done. And if a disaster occurs, then we’ll see the same sham that occurred after the Iraq War – some Senate Committee blathering that no one is to blame because everyone in Washington was a victim of “group think.”

Federal prosecutors stress that Assange leaked “classified” information. But federal agencies are creating trillions of pages of new “classified’ secrets each year. Yet, any information which is classified is treated like a political holy relic that cannot be exposed without cursing the nation. Pervasive secrecy helps explain the collapse of trust in Washington. Americans today are more likely to believe in witches, ghosts, and astrology than to trust the federal government. Adding Assange’s scalp to the Justice Department’s trophy wall will do nothing to end the mistrust of the political ruling class that has dragged America into so many debacles. Assange is guilty of lese-majeste – embarrassing the government by exposing their follies, frauds, and crimes. Assange declared years ago, “If wars can be started by lies, they can be stopped by truth.” Dropping the charges against Assange is the best way for the Biden administration to prove it is serious about ending excessive secrecy.

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Stossel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Athens 1959

 

 


In 2015, photographer Atif Saeed captured this intense photograph of a male lion moments before it launched an attack on him. He narrowly escaped with this incredible shot of a face-to-face with a lion about to kill.

 

 

 

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Mar 162016
 
 March 16, 2016  Posted by at 9:53 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  Comments Off on Debt Rattle March 16 2016


William Henry Jackson Camp wagon on a Texas roundup 1901

Chinese PM Li Keqiang Says It Is ‘Impossible’ to Miss Economic Targets (WSJ)
Chinese Buying In US Rekindles Memories Of Japan’s 1980s Merger Mania (Forbes)
China Mixes Cash, Coercion to Ease Labor Unrest (WSJ)
China To Target Shadow Lending For Housing Down-Payments (BBG)
Asia Hedge Funds Had Worst-Ever Start to Year (BBG)
Retirement Is Impossible With Negative Rates (Mauldin)
JP Morgan Brings Back Mortgage-Backed Securities (WSJ)
Despair Fatigue (Graeber)
Disaster Capitalists Fan Flames Of War In Syria (II)
EU Approves Refugee Support Mechanism For Greece (Kath.)
FYROM Accuses Greece Over the “Exodus” of Refugees (PP)
FYROM Dumps Refugees Back In Greece As EU-Turkey Deal Falters (Reuters)
Refugees On Lesbos Offered Sanctuary Thanks To Brit Couple (Mirror)
UNHCR To Ask World To Take In 400,000 Syrian Refugees (A.)

Not a smart thing to say.

Chinese PM Li Keqiang Says It Is ‘Impossible’ to Miss Economic Targets (WSJ)

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said it would be “impossible” for China to fall short in meeting its relatively high economic-growth targets even as it pushes ahead with structural reforms. Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of China’s annual legislative session, Mr. Li said China won’t suffer a “hard landing,” or sharp downturn, and can achieve growth and reform simultaneously. “Reform and development aren’t contradictory,” he said. “We should be able to stimulate market vitality and support economic development via structural reforms.” At the opening of the National People’s Congress earlier this month, China set growth targets of 6.5% to 7% for this year and an average benchmark of at least 6.5% from now until 2020.

Economists say this relatively high growth target at a time when the economy is losing momentum suggests China is favoring growth over structural reform, which could prevent massive job losses and social instability but set back the shift of China’s economy from investment and manufacturing to consumption and services. The real test will be in whether tough restructuring steps are implemented, Commerzbank economist Zhou Hao said in a report following Mr. Li’s comments. “China needs to proceed with the deleveraging more decisively, and should prevent the leverage ratio from soaring again,” he wrote. “At the end of the day, policy execution is crucial to restore the market confidence.”

Mr. Li said capital-adequacy ratios at China’s financial institutions are sound, bad loans are well covered by reserves and the nation is making progress in cutting corporate debt using debt-for-equity swaps. Mr. Li signaled that China will do what it takes to maintain its growth targets and that it has a “good reserve” of policy instruments in the event that growth falls outside an acceptable range, He said China will employ “innovative measures” to ensure steady economic progress.

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What could go wrong?

Chinese Buying In US Rekindles Memories Of Japan’s 1980s Merger Mania (Forbes)

Nearly three decades ago, Japanese corporations flooded the United States with a boom of takeover deals, much of it focused on prime U.S. real estate. They snapped up properties like Rockefeller Center and The Plaza Hotel, in addition to Columbia Pictures, causing consternation among those in the U.S. who wondered when, or if, the buying boom would ever end. “If you don’t want Japan to buy it.. don’t sell it,” Akio Morita, founder of Sony , famously said when bidding for Columbia. The buying stopped when a 1980s stock market bubble in Japan popped, depleting the dealmaking currency and animal spirits of overseas acquirers. Within years, targets like Rock Center and The Plaza were in the hands of new ownership and a quarter century later, Japanese corporations are still trying to dig out from under the bubble.

Now, it appears there’s a new foreign buyer rushing into U.S. markets and exhibiting similarities to the heady, 1980s Japanese M&A binge. Chinese corporations have opened 2016 with an unprecedented surge in overseas dealmaking and this frenzy of activity is no coincidence. It comes as China’s currency is in the process of readjusting to account for it slowing economic growth, causing hundreds of billions of dollars in capital outflows. Roughly half a trillion dollars poured out of China in 2015 according to the Institute for International Finance and that pace continues this year. Capital leaving China has found its way into single and multifamily real estate properties in North America – in addition to financial assets like stocks, bonds and currencies.

Now, the money is rushing directly towards large domestic corporations through takeover deals. Just two and a half months into the year, Chinese overseas corporate M&A activity is roughly in line with the $108 billion in outbound M&A conducted all of last year, according to Dealogic. If Chinese corporates are beginning to exhibit similar symptoms to the Japanese merger mania, a set of deals in the works this weekend cements the comparison. Anbang Insurance Group, which is run by Deng Xiaoping’s grandson-in-law, is trying to negotiate what looks to be an unprecedented bonanza of real estate acquisitions, targeted at famous U.S. properties. Anbang ponied up $2 billion to buy the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel from Blackstone-controlled Hilton Hotels in late 2014, and the group is back at it with two deals that would increase its buying by many multiples.

The insurer is reportedly offering to buy Strategic Hotels and Resorts (SH&R) — the owner of properties including Essex House and Hotel del Coronado — from Blackstone. That offer comes just months after the ink dried on the PE giant’s $4 billion takeover of SH&R in September. And Anbang is leading a consortium of investors who are challenging Marriott International’s $12 billion takeover of Starwood Hotels, operator of upscale hotel brands including Westin, W Hotels and Le Meridien.

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How China keeps its zombies alive.

China Mixes Cash, Coercion to Ease Labor Unrest (WSJ)

A protest by Chinese coal workers over unpaid wages drew a swift, expected response: payoffs to get them off the streets and threats of police action if they don’t. The effort underscores the government’s long-standing worries about labor strife and its newly cautious approach to restructuring unprofitable state firms. Unrest in the northeastern city of Shuangyashan appeared to ease as Longmay Mining Holding, a huge employer, started disbursing some back pay on Monday, workers said. Hundreds took to the streets there last week, drawing a large police presence, after the provincial governor said Longmay didn’t owe its miners wages.

The response by Longmay and Heilongjiang province Gov. Lu Hao, who later said he had misspoken about the wage arrears, mirrored past efforts by Chinese officials to ease labor unrest with a mix of cash, coercion and pledges of redress. Chinese call the strategy “buying stability,” part of the government’s well-worn playbook for defusing public anger. Beyond being a troubled coal company, Longmay is a test case for government resolve in carrying out a key economic initiative—the restructuring of uncompetitive state industries whose drain on resources is impeding a transition to an economy driven more by services and consumers. Many Longmay workers in Shuangyashan are among the 1.8 million steel and coal workers Beijing plans to lay off over the next five years.

The retrenchment, and the allocation of 100 billion yuan ($15.4 billion) in restructuring funds to pay for workers’ severance, retraining and relocation, are part of a five-year economic program Chinese lawmakers are set to adopt at the end of their annual session in Beijing on Wednesday. Economists have said China needs deeper cuts to shed excess industrial capacity and divert labor and capital to more productive industries. Instead, the government is encouraging businesses to keep workers on the payrolls, often at reduced hours and pay, avoiding fueling a continuing surge in labor unrest but at the cost of dragging out an economic transition. Some ailing enterprises can expect official support to stay in business, including in Longmay’s case tax cuts and cash incentives that Fitch Ratings says allowed the mining company to avoid defaulting on bonds.

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“His property agent offered him a zero-interest loan, funded entirely online by peer-to-peer lenders, that covered almost half his deposit..”

China To Target Shadow Lending For Housing Down-Payments (BBG)

When Fu Songtao found his ideal home in the suburbs of Shanghai, he faced the typical problem of would-be homebuyers: Coming up with enough cash for a down payment. So Fu turned to an online solution. His property agent offered him a zero-interest loan, funded entirely online by peer-to-peer lenders, that covered almost half his deposit. “Everybody I know took out these loans,” said Fu, a 29-year-old employee of a state-owned enterprise, who borrowed 380,000 yuan ($58,000) a year ago, with interest payments to lenders subsidized by the property agent, for his 3 million yuan apartment, and has seen its value increase to 3.3 million yuan since. “If you can borrow like that, why not?” The lending platform of his real estate agency, E-House China, is one of China’s hundreds of P2P lenders allowing home buyers to seek down-payment loans online.

Total P2P borrowing for home deposits reached 924 million yuan in January, more than three times the level of last July, according to data provider Yingcan. Lending for property down payments, a phenomenon all but unheard of a year ago, has now prompted plans by the government to halt such borrowing. The response underscores the stakes as shadow-banking leverage creeps into China’s housing market – a development similar to the margin financing that fueled last year’s stock market bubble, but with potentially more damaging consequences. “Down-payment financing would definitely cause risks to the financial system, similar to the subprime crisis in the U.S.,” said Hu Xingdou, an economics professor at the Beijing Institute of Technology.

“China has learned a lesson from the U.S. subprime crisis. The Chinese government understands that they have to solve problems like housing and overcapacity. At the same time, they can’t bring further risks to the financial system, as the banks already have a lot of bad debt.” People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Pan Gongsheng said at a press conference on Saturday that down-payment loans offered by developers, real estate agents, and P2P lenders not only raised leverage of home buyers, they also undermined effectiveness of macroeconomic policies and increased risks to the financial system and property markets. The central bank together with other government departments will soon start a campaign to clean up such activities, he said. New rules being drafted by the central bank, the China Banking Regulatory Commission and other bodies would bar developers, peer-to-peer networks and other non-banks from offering down-payment loans

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Casino’s on steroids.

Asia Hedge Funds Had Worst-Ever Start to Year (BBG)

Hedge funds in Asia, which beat counterparts in the U.S. and Europe in 2015, are off to their worst annual start on record this year, as the region’s stock markets have plunged amid a dimming outlook for growth. Asia hedge funds, excluding those that invest in Japan, fell 1.5% in February, bringing their loss for the first two months of 2016 to 6.6%, according to Singapore-based data provider Eurekahedge. Apart from being the biggest drop ever for the first two months of the year, that’s also the worst start among the world’s major regions, Eurekahedge said. Hedge funds including those from Greenwoods Asset Management and Zeal Asset Management extended declines they suffered in January.

After successfully navigating turbulent markets in 2015, hedge funds in Asia are seeing a reversal this year as worries about a global slowdown have deepened. The Shanghai Composite Index has tumbled 19% this year to rank among the worst-performing equity markets in the world, and most of the region’s benchmarks have been whipsawed by volatility amid scant signs of global growth. “Hedge fund managers in the region, especially those focusing on long-short strategies, had been stung by volatility in underlying markets,” said Mohammad Hassan at Eurekahedge. As it becomes more difficult to post consistent returns, investors are increasingly shifting their money to the largest or most promising managers, prompting many smaller-scale firms to exit the business or return money to investors.

That’s creating a bifurcation in Asia’s hedge fund industry. The losses for hedge funds investing in Asia ex-Japan compares with a decline of 3.2% in Europe through the end of February and a decrease of 1.7% in North America, according to the Eurekahedge website. Last year, Asia ex-Japan hedge funds rose 7.5%, beating rivals in other parts of the world. Greenwoods Asset’s Golden China Fund fell 3.7% in February, bringing its losses to 14.4% so far this year, according to Joseph Zeng, a Hong Kong-based partner at the hedge fund firm. The fund, which managed $1.7 billion as of January, was one of the top performers last year, posting gains of almost 22%.

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“This situation would wreak havoc on every pension fund—but that’s not even the worst part.”

Retirement Is Impossible With Negative Rates (Mauldin)

Since 2008, the Fed has relied on near-zero interest rates to stimulate economic growth, and they still sincerely believe that low interest rates will do the job they’re supposed to. However, the hard evidence of the past few years is that ultra-low rates, combined with quantitative easing, haven’t stimulated much growth. Unemployment has fallen, which is good—but probably not as good as the numbers suggest because people have gone back to work for lower pay and are now even deeper in debt. Personal income growth has stagnated, too. Are we better off now than we were five years ago? The answer is a qualified yes. But it is not entirely clear, at least to your humble analyst, that the halting economic recovery is the result of low interest rates and not other less manipulable factors such as entrepreneurial initiative and good old muddling through.

In fact, an ultra-easy monetary policy may be part of the reason we’ve been stuck with low growth. Witness Japan and Europe. Just saying… Seriously, no one fully understands how all the moving parts influence each other. Years of ZIRP did help businesses and consumers reduce their debt burdens. ZIRP and multiple rounds of QE have also done wonders for stock prices… but not much for the kind of business expansion that creates jobs and GDP growth. If year upon year of ultra-low rates were enough to create an economic boom, Japan would be the world’s strongest economy right now. It obviously isn’t—which says something about ZIRP’s efficacy as a stimulus tool. What isn’t a mystery, however, is that ZIRP has created a massive problem for retirement savers and pension fund managers.

If ZIRP is bad, NIRP will be far worse for retirement planning. Bond-return assumptions will have to be even lower and potentially below zero. This situation would wreak havoc on every pension fund—but that’s not even the worst part. Most asset allocations are generally in the ballpark of 60% equities and 40% bonds, so that is the standard portfolio we will be discussing. Other allocations will make some differences, but not change the general direction. In other words, “your mileage may vary,” but probably not by much. In an ideal world—which is the world that pension consultants live in—equities will return 10% nominal and bonds will return 5%. A 60/40 portfolio blend will then yield an 8% overall return after fees, expenses, and management costs.

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“J.P. Morgan is using the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s safe harbor, which isolates them from the assets and protects investors if the mortgages go bad.”

JP Morgan Brings Back Mortgage-Backed Securities (WSJ)

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. is trying to sell new securities that would pass along most of the credit risk on $1.9 billion in mortgages, in an attempt to revive a debt market that has been largely left to the government since the financial crisis. The largest U.S. bank by assets is expected to price the residential mortgage-backed deal over the next two weeks. J.P. Morgan would hold 90% of the deal by keeping the safest parts, or the most senior tranches, and plans to sell off the riskier pieces to investors. Government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have dominated the market in their absence. The two companies have recently been selling new securities that use derivatives to unload the risk of default on the mortgages they guarantee.

The new deal is J.P. Morgan’s first “house transaction” since the financial crisis, meaning it is entirely backed by mortgages the bank owns. The pool includes a mix of more than 6,000 mortgages, both newer and refinancings, around 75% of them conforming with the underwriting standards set by Fannie and Freddie. J.P. Morgan could have sold those loans directly to Fannie and Freddie, so the deal indicates it thinks it can get a better deal with private investors or holding parts on its balance sheet.

The New York bank hopes this new method could offer more competitive pricing and help broaden the market for such deals, people familiar with the matter said. J.P. Morgan is using the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s safe harbor, which isolates them from the assets and protects investors if the mortgages go bad. The deal is the first of its kind to be issued by a major bank, according to Fitch Ratings, which gave the securities mostly investment-grade credit ratings. “This is an important step to bring private capital back into the mortgage market,” J.P. Morgan Chief Operating Officer Matt Zames said.

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“.. the historical defeat and humiliation of the British working classes is now the island’s primary export product.”

Despair Fatigue (Graeber)

In the United Kingdom, “finance” is based above all in real estate, and the real estate bubble that sustains the City is itself sustained by the fact that pretty much every billionaire in the world feels they have to maintain at least a flat, and more often a townhouse, in a fashionable part of London. Why? There are plenty of other well-appointed modern cities in the world, most of which have a decidedly more appealing climate. Yet even more than, say, New York or San Francisco, London real estate has become something like U.S. treasury bonds, a basic currency of the international rich. It’s when one asks questions like these that economics and politics become indistinguishable. Those who have investigated the situation find that London’s appeal—and by extension, Britain’s—rests on two factors.

First of all, Russian oligarchs or Saudi princesses know they can get pretty much anything they want in London, from antique candelabras and high-tech spy devices, to Mary Poppins–style nannies for their children, fresh lobsters delivered by bicycle in the wee hours, and every conceivable variety of exotic sexual service, music, and food. What’s more, the boodles will be delivered by a cheerful, creative, and subservient working-class population who, drawing on centuries of tradition, know exactly how to be butlers. The second factor is security. If one is a nouveau riche construction magnate or diamond trader from Hong Kong, Delhi, or Bahrain, one is keenly aware that at home, something could still go terribly wrong: revolution, a sudden U-turn of government policy, expropriation, violent unrest. None of this could possibly happen in Notting Hill or Chelsea.

Any political change that would significantly affect the most wealthy was effectively taken off the table with the Glorious Revolution of 1688. In other words, the historical defeat and humiliation of the British working classes is now the island’s primary export product. By organizing the entire economy around the resultant housing bubble, the Tories have ensured that the bulk of the British population is aware, at least on some tacit level, that it is precisely the global appeal of the English class system, up to and including the contemptuous sneer of the Oxbridge graduates in Parliament chuckling over the impending removal of housing benefits, that is also keeping affordable track shoes, beer, and consumer electronics flowing into the country. It’s an impossible dilemma.

It’s hardly surprising, then, that so many turn to cynical right-wing populists like UKIP, who manipulate the resulting indignation by fomenting rage against Polish construction workers instead of Russian oligarchs, Bangladeshi drivers instead of Qatari princes, and West Indian porters instead of Brazilian steel tycoons. This marketing of class subservience is the essence of Tory economic strategy. Industry may be trounced and the university system turned (back) into a playground for the rich, but even if this leads to a collapse of technology and the knowledge economy, the end result will only seal in more firmly the class system that produces Tory politicians: England will literally have nothing else to sell.

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Lest we forget. Good read, lots of details.

Disaster Capitalists Fan Flames Of War In Syria (II)

If Naomi Klein were to rewrite The Shock Doctrine now, I hope she d agree that the situation in Syria is playing out as a textbook example of her terrifying concept because I believe that’s what we are witnessing. To understand the actions of each nation involved in Syria, you first have to recognise their motivation. It is, as always, fossil fuels and the dollar with human life at a lowly position down the pecking order. The crux of the matter is that Bashar al-Assad put paid to the construction of an oil and gas pipeline, which would have ended Europe s reliance on Russia for its natural gas, by refusing to sign an agreement with Qatar. Instead, he opted for a partnership with Iran (after which the civil war in Syria intensified). While the construction of the pipeline had previously been put on hold, it was quietly announced last July that Iran was forging ahead with a trunkline (IGAT6) to supply Iraq with natural gas; in theory, this could be the beginning of an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline or one that goes direct to Turkey.

The Iranian pipeline would be unacceptable to both Washington and Brussels, as it would mean energy co-ordination from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia (putting pressure on their Sunni-led cohorts in the region), and also because the product from such would be traded in a basket of currencies not exclusively the petrodollar. Moreover, with Iran now emerging from sanctions (and forecast to produce 3.1mbpd), its gas fields, the second largest reserves on the planet, are up for grabs to exporters. There is, in Syria and across the spectrum of corporate interests of the countries involved, everything to play for and the disaster capitalists are piling into the game, full throttle.

The refugee crisis ostensibly splintering the governments of the EU is set to balloon. Already this year, 133,549 people have reached Europe by sea up more than 10 fold from 2015. The demographic has altered drastically as well: whereas last year, the breakdown of migrants/refugees by gender was 62% male, 16% women and 22% children, so far this year it has been 47%, 20% and 34% respectively. The chaotic propaganda surrounding the refugee crisis continues unabated, each country pointing fingers at the other, for instance, when a NATO general accused Russia and Syria of weaponising the refugee crisis (while simultaneously characterising the people fleeing war as a hotbed of ISIS recruits).

Meanwhile, Greece, in the midst of its own economic turmoil, is left to accommodate 122,000 souls under the UNHCR’s warning of an ‘imminent humanitarian disaster’ unless other EU countries begin to take in these refugees. In effect, the intentional bottleneck in Greece functions as yet another form of shock inflicted by the EU and Troika on an already flailing Syriza administration and its embattled leader Tsipras. With its third bailout looking unsteady amidst mutterings of the IMF pulling out of the deal, the Greek administration has no chips to bargain with, and holds minimal leverage within the EU.

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More disgrace. Greece spends €600 million alone, EU ‘approves’ €300 million in support of the entire ‘refugee effort’.

EU Approves Refugee Support Mechanism For Greece (Kath.)

The presidency of the European Council on Tuesday announced that it has approved a new support mechanism for Greece and other European countries struggling with the bloc’s biggest immigration crisis since World War II. “This Council decision shows that the EU stands by Greece at this difficult time. The Netherlands presidency will do all it can to ensure that the necessary EU funds are mobilized as quickly as possible,” said Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders, whose country holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU. The European Commission estimates that the refugee effort will require €300 million this year and an additional €200 million each in 2017 and 2018.

The help that will be provided under the new mechanism includes food, shelter, water, medicine and other basic necessities. It will be delivered by the Commission itself or by partner organizations selected in cooperation with Greek authorities. Tuesday’s statement put the number of migrants and refugees currently trapped in Greece due to border closures at 35,000. Government sources estimate that number to be closer to 44,000. The Bank of Greece, meanwhile, on Monday said the cost of the handling the refugee crisis for Greece alone will likely exceed a previous estimate of €600 million.

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Sour and bitter relations. The Greeks say ‘Skopje’. Rumors say accidentally calling the country Macedonia forced the Greek migration minister to resign today.

FYROM Accuses Greece Over the “Exodus” of Refugees (PP)

The Minister of foreign affairs of FYROM, Nikola Poposki, stated that Greece is responsible for the “organised push” of several hundreds of migrants who attempted to cross over yesterday In a series of tweets, Poposki claimed that the growing numbers of migrants at the borders between Greece and FYROM intensifies smuggling while it worsens the human treatment of those living in the refugee camps. He claims that only a united and humane EU reaction will be able to provide a solution for both migrants as well as the involved countries. Those statements came after the effort, on Monday, of almost a thousand refugees to cross the river of Axios and attempt to get into FYROM via an opening in the fence separating the two countries.

While three people were drowned, the rest managed to enter FYROM where they were intercepted by FYROM army and were captured. The refugees decided to make that desperate “exodus” towards FYROM after a flyer was distributed between them, describing in English and Arabic where, and how they could pass over to FYROM. The incident creates further confusion and difficulties in what is already a complex situation between the countries involved. In any case it is not a development which aids Greece, or in fact the efforts of the refugees as it allows those countries which have decided to seal their borders to claim that Greece is not able to control the waves of migrants.

The Greek chief of the Administration for the migrant problem stated that, should FYROM make a petition for the re-entrance of the refugees back to Greece, the Greek side will evaluate and decide on it. It should be noted that there is no formal agreement between FYROM and Greece for the re-acceptance of migrants. At the same time, the Greek government is beckoning to NGOs as well as volunteering organizations to be in close contact with the authorities in order to avoid cases of misinformation. On Monday afternoon the Prime Minister presided over a meeting with all concerned authorities regarding those latest developments.

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That is illegal.

FYROM Dumps Refugees Back In Greece As EU-Turkey Deal Falters (Reuters)

Macedonia dumped about 1,500 migrants and refugees back into Greece overnight after they forced their way across the border, as European nations continued to pass the buck in a migration crisis that risks tearing the European Union apart. The police action was part of a drive by Western Balkans states to shut down a migration route from Greece to Germany used by nearly a million people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Asia over the last year in Europe’s biggest refugee influx since World War Two. EU efforts to conclude a deal with Turkey to halt the human tide in return for political and economic rewards hit a setback on Tuesday when EU member Cyprus vowed to block efforts to speed up Ankara’s EU accession talks unless Turkey meets its obligations to recognize its nationhood.

European Council President Donald Tusk, who will chair an EU summit with Turkey on Thursday and Friday, was flying on to Ankara to discuss the fraying pact with Turkish leaders after tough talks with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. Tusk acknowledged to reporters that the tentative deal put together last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu raised legal problems and needed to be “rebalanced” to win acceptance from all 28 EU members. The European Commission meanwhile postponed proposals to reform the bloc’s flawed asylum system, which puts the onus on the state where migrants first arrive, in an attempt to avoid further controversy before the Turkey deal is finalised. Some 43,000 migrants are bottled up in Greece, overstraining the economically shattered euro zone country’s capacity to cope, and more continue to cross the Aegean daily from Turkey despite new NATO sea patrols.

An estimated 1,500 people marched out of a squalid transit camp near the northern Greek town of Idomeni on Monday, hiked for hours along muddy paths and forded a rain-swollen river to get around the border fence. Most were picked up by Macedonian security forces, put into trucks and driven back over the border into Greece late Monday or overnight, a Macedonian police official said. Greek authorities said they could not confirm the return as there had been no official contact from the Macedonian side. Ties between the two neighbors are fraught because of Greece’s long-standing refusal to recognize Macedonia’s name, which is the same as that of a northern Greek province. A second group of about 600 migrants was prevented from crossing into Macedonia and many of them spent the night camping in the Greek mountains.

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The Kempsons are fabulous. But where’s the rest of Britain?

Refugees On Lesbos Offered Sanctuary Thanks To Brit Couple (Mirror)

Many British couples dream of leaving Blighty behind and opening a hotel on an island in the sun. It was no different for Eric and Philippa Kempson when they thought about their future together. But it was the global refugee crisis which pushed them to buy their seafront guest house on the Greek island of Lesbos. And rather than welcoming British tourists, they have opened their doors to the hundreds of fleeing refugees who land on its shores each month. Now, as Turkey and the EU agree their “one in, one out” policy in response to the migrant crisis, Philippa says: “I’m absolutely speechless about these latest measures -they’re farcical. Labels like “irregular migration” are meaningless.” “We need to remember these are human beings fleeing horrific circumstances.

Hotel Elpis, on tranquil Eftalou Beach, gives desperate refugees shelter, somewhere to wash and a meal when they land on Lesbos. The 20-room hotel welcomed its first 110 residents two weeks ago. “In Greek Elpis is the goddess of hope, so it seemed fitting that we called the hotel the Hope Centre“ says Philippa, 43. First and foremost that’s what we provide these people with: hope. We are trying to give the families a few hours of dignity and somewhere where they are treated as people, not as refugees. We hadn’t planned to open our doors so early, as we are still waiting for our health and safety licenses. But last week one of the aid agencies begged us to help 110 people who had just arrived on boats. Every facility on the island was full. Philippa and Eric, 60, got involved in the crisis last summer, when they started handing out water to refugees.

Philippa explains: “We thought bigger agencies would come to help, but when none did, we thought, we have to help these people ourselves”. It was then that they decided to open the hotel. “We ve used our own savings and are working on the project 24/7”, she says. Tourists have been kind enough to leave money at supermarkets so we can buy supplies to hand out. The couple have also been given help with the hotel’s rent by Glasgow housing charity PAIH. Philippa adds: “Eric is an artist and makes oak products we sell. But last summer he didn’t have the time to do that because of our work with refugees. So I don t know how we are going to survive ourselves financially this year, but we will deal with those issues when they come.”

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Good luck.

UNHCR To Ask World To Take In 400,000 Syrian Refugees (A.)

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said on Tuesday he will ask countries to step forward and agree to take in another 400,000 Syrian refugees. On his first visit to Washington since being appointed to head the UN refugee effort, Filippo Grandi said the world must do more to end the crisis. “On March 30, I’m going to chair a meeting in Geneva at which I ask the international community to take 10% of all the Syrian refugees,” he said. “10% is a lot of people. It’s more than 400,000 people,” he told reporters on the fifth anniversary of Syria’s bloody civil war. More than four million Syrians have fled their war-torn country since the conflict erupted, and more than six million are displaced within its borders. Neighboring Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan are struggling to cope with the exodus and the onward flow has created a political and humanitarian crisis in Europe.

Canada and Germany have been praised for stepping up to welcome tens of thousands as refugees, but others, including the United States have been criticized. Historically the United States has been by far the world’s leading host of refugees and it still is for those fleeing many other conflicts around the world. But amid a bitter atmosphere in the run up to November’s presidential election, Washington has struggled to offer new homes to desperate Syrians. US President Barack Obama ordered that 10,000 be admitted during the 2016 fiscal year, but half-way through the period only 1,115 have been processed. Grandi was careful not to criticize his hosts in Washington, praising the leading US role in hosting refugees of other nationalities.

But he lamented the tone of the debate in both the US and Europe, where anti-immigration politicians have claimed that terrorists hide among Muslim refugees. Grandi complained that on a visit to the European parliament he had heard “language we haven’t heard since the 30s” from opponents of resettlement. But he added that the new 400,000 target figure could be met in part by means short of the full resettlement package that the United States offers. Rather than providing Syrian refugees with new lives and permanent residence, some countries may offer temporary jobs, scholarships or humanitarian visas. For this, he said, his office would work with private firms and universities in partnership with states, to try to reduce the pressure on Syria’s neighbors.

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